Hanuman has a story that during his chldhood, he assumed rising Sun to be a red colored fruit and tried to catch it. While he attempted to get close to Sun, Rahu (moon’s north node), who was supposed to catch Sun and create Solar eclipse that day, complained to Indra and how Hanuman was positioned as an opponent to Indra.
Valmiki Ramayana does not mention about this story in detail. Infact, Hanuman’s childhood is not described in Ramayana.
Parasara Samhita, the only authentic book on Hanuman with complete details, mentions few slokas where Hanuman as an infant asks for food on a new moon day. His mother Anjana asks him to eat any fruit. Hanuman sees rising Sun, assumes it to be a fruit and gets closer. Indra hits him with Vajrayudha on cheek and it swells.
Hanuman is reincarnation of one of the 11 (ekadasa) Rudras. These are the brightest stars which are visible to us in the Galaxy.
Infact he is Ekapada Rudra or Ajaika Pada Rudra (Aja-Eka Pada Rudra) who got reincarnated on earth as Hanuman.
Rig Veda does not mention ‘Hanuman‘ but has a title ‘Vrishakapi‘ comes in a reference to the story related to Indra and Indrani.
The Sukta in which his name occurs first is as follows:
“वि हि सोतोरससृक्षत नेन्द्रं देवममंसत। यन्नामदद् वृषाकपिरयः पुष्टेषु मत्सखा विश्वस्मादिन्द्र उत्तरः।। ”
Here in this sukta, Kapi is called as harit mriga, in Valmiki Ramayana one name of Hanuman is Sakha Mriga.
In Rig Veda, Harit Mriga becomes an enemy of Indra and sometimes causes pain to Indrani, for that reason often there would be fight between both.
Vrishakapi’s character is as impressive as Indra but it is not clear what exactly he was because he drinks soma.
Here, Soma is not wine “सोमं मन्यते पपिवान् यत् संपिषन्त्योष॑धिषम्। सोमं॒ यं ब्र॒ह्मणो वि॒दु॒र्न तस्या॑श्नाति कश्च!न।। -ॠग्वेद “. It is juice of sama gaan or the pleasure derived by singing Sama Veda with expertise.
Vrishakapi was worshiped like other vedic gods. Vrishakapi was Indra’s friend before he became his enemy. The tussle between Indra and Vrishakapi had been because Vrishakapi proposed Indrani – “The wife of Indra” and wanted her but She did not agree. After her refusal Vrishakapi rebuked her and said, “She was not beautiful and only worthy of her husband’s love”, having heard this she became furious and quarreled with him, and in return he destroyed her assets. Later Indra tried to bring peace but was unable to. Vrishakapi left Indra’s house and took shelter in rich people’s homes. This event influenced people and they regarded him for his might, forgotten Indra and stopped worshiping him.
Vrishakapi is Orion (Mrigasirsha) constellation
In Astronomy, Vrishakapi is actually a set of constellations, which are together called as ‘Orion‘. It can be seen from throughout the earth and is in shape of a hunter.
In Vedic Astrology, Orion is Mrigasirsha or Mrigasira Nakshatra, which spans between 23-20′ Taurus to 6-40′ Gemini.
Its position is described in the Surya Siddhānta..
It was named after Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology. Its brightest stars are Rigel (Beta Orionis) and Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), a blue-white and a red supergiant, respectively.
During the time period between Winter Solstice (22 December) to Vernal Equinox (early March), Rising Sign (Ascendant or Lagna) at east on every morning is aligned at same position with Rising Sun.
For example : On 22 December (each year), Sun and Ascendant or at same degree in same sign (Sagittarius according to Vedic Astrology) and even on 7 March (every year), Sun and Ascendant or at same degree in same sign (Pisces according to Vedic Astrology). From mid-march, this changes as Sun moves ahead.
This journey from Winter Solstice to Vernal Equinox appears like as if Orion constellation is following the Sun.
As Orion appears like a human figure (hunter), it can be imagined like a man chasing a fruit.
This period (December – March) is when there are no rains in Northern Hemisphere (above the equator). Majority of human population live in this zone, they experience winter and no rainfall.
Indra is the God associated with Rain and he is not worshipped during this period. This is the reason why Vrishakapi is a competitor to Indra.
Infact, one of the Orion’s brightest stars Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) is a Red supergiant and is so big that, Sun appears like a small dot in front of it.
Betelgeuse, also designated Alpha Orionis (α Orionis, abbreviated Alpha Ori, α Ori), is the ninth-brightest star in the night sky and second-brightest in the constellation of Orion. It is distinctly reddish, and is a semiregular variable star whose apparent magnitude varies between 0.0 and 1.3, the widest range of any first-magnitude star.
Traditional name Betelgeuse is derived from the Arabic إبط الجوزاء Ibṭ al-Jauzā’, meaning “the underarm of Orion“, or يد الجوزاء Yad al-Jauzā’, meaning “the hand of Orion“.
When Sun appears to travel along with Ascendant (between December-March every year), Orion will be appearing to travel towards Sun at the same pace.
When this big Betelguese, along with other constellations in Orion appears to travel towards a tiny Sun, obviously Sun appears like a tiny red fruit.
This entire astronomical event was etched into a folklore story in Parasara Samhita and later into Hanuman Chalisa by Tulsidas.
The same Hanuman Chalsia, observes distance between Sun and Earth (which was written in Rig Veda thousands of years earlier, as ancient rishis calculated Speed of Light accurately).
Vrishakapi is said to be the head of Prajapati or Brahma, the Creator, who also has the form of a deer or antelope. Mrigashira includes the same region as the constellation Orion, marking its upper portion. If one draws a line directly north from the threestars in the belt of Orion one comes to the star Calpella (Alpha Auriga), thestar called the heart of Brahma (Brahma-hridaya) in Vedic thought (Surya Siddhanta VIII.20). This appears to be the main spiritual power point in theVedic zodiac.
As kapi also means monkey or its related species, ‘kapi’ and ‘markata’ words were commonly used while refering to Hanuman.
Brahma Purana tells us how Vrishakapi became Indra’s friend. He saved his kingdom and made him free from the devil Mahasani. The relation with Sani (Saturn) and Hanuman was established later and it is said that “only Hanuman can control Sani”.
Vrishakapi is still worshiped by many societies of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the form of Vira, from where Hanuman received another name Mahavira.
His Gayatri mantra includes this name thus : आंजनेयाय विद्महे । वायुपुत्राय धीमहि । तन्नो वीर: प्रचोदयात् ।।
Vira might have been Yaksha’s Deity who was capable to appear in any form; he was probably a deity of nature. This was remarkably depicted by Tantric worshipers in the form of five headed (Mahabira) Hanuman. He could appear in five animal forms : lion, horse, monkey, parrot and boar.
In Uttar Praesh and Bihar many communities worship Vira as boar or Varah Devata.
In Mahabharta we find him as Varaha : “कपिर्वराह श्रेष्ठश्च धर्मश्च वृष उच्यते। तस्माद् वृषाकपिं प्राह कश्यपो मां प्रजापतिः।।
If we observe entire galaxy or Milky Way, this event appears when position of Sun at Sagittarius arm and Orion’s arm are getting closer to each other.
Our Solar System and Sun are too small to be noticed in Galaxy.
Puranas and Vedas are full of such allegories, which need to be properly interpreted, rather than questioning their literal meaning.